Jefferson in His Own Time

Jefferson in His Own Time

A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates

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“Thomas Jefferson today has many detractors. Kevin Hayes has collected a wealth of contemporary anecdotes to reveal instead the wonderfully human, charming, self-deprecating, and unexpectedly witty side of the third president’s complex personality.”—Keith Thomson, author, A Passion for Nature: Thomas Jefferson and Natural History

“In this marvelous compilation of recollections by family members, friends, colleagues, and casual acquaintances, Kevin Hayes introduces us to the Thomas Jefferson contemporaries knew. Modern readers will be disarmed—as so many visitors were—by Jefferson’s warmth, humor, and capacity for friendship. Well edited and beautifully introduced, Jefferson in His Own Time is a timely and welcome contribution to Jefferson studies.”—Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia 

“Kevin Hayes has done a great service to anyone interested in Jefferson. Thanks to Hayes we can see Jefferson through the eyes of those who knew him, from family members to visiting European aristocrats. The result is a complex, multilayered, and fascinating portrait. This is a wonderful collection.”—Francis D. Cogliano, author, Thomas Jefferson: Reputation and Legacy and editor, The Blackwell Companion to Jefferson

“The author of the deservedly acclaimed The Road to Monticello, Kevin J. Hayes has created an anthology of thirty of the best contemporary accounts describing Thomas Jefferson. These portrayals offer glimpses and insights into the character and private world of a man often regarded as the most enigmatic and elusive of the Founding Fathers. The reader is able to bypass historians to read firsthand eyewitness descriptions of ‘The Sage of Monticello.’”—Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, Saunders Director, Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Foundation

In this volume, Kevin J. Hayes collects thirty accounts of Thomas Jefferson written by his granddaughters, visiting dignitaries, fellow politicians, and others who knew him as a family man, public servant, intellectual, and institution builder. The letters and reminiscences of those who knew Jefferson personally reveal him to be a warm, funny man, quite unlike the solemn statesman so often limned in biographies. 

To friends and enemies alike he was the model of a republican gentleman, profoundly knowledgeable in philosophy and natural history, able to converse in several languages, and capable of great wit but contemptuous of ceremony and fancy dress. Through these excerpts, we can see the nation’s third president as his family knew him—a loving husband, father, and grandfather—and as his peers did, as a tireless public servant with a fondness for tall tales.